DSRs: From Privacy to Profits

Nathan Siegel
Nathan Siegel
Nov 20, 2023
min read
DSRs: From Privacy to Profits

Digital privacy is no longer just a concern but a legislated right, and so companies operating under regulations like GDPR face a call-to-action that can’t be ignored, and definitely shouldn’t be discounted in terms of potential cost. Let’s explore just how handling Data Subject Requests (DSRs) efficiently is not only a compliance necessity but a potential avenue for defrayed costs and brand enhancement.

The Privacy Call-to-Action

For companies within GDPR and other privacy-regulation-relevant geographies, DSRs represent a critical touchpoint with customers. Article 15 of the GDPR reads, "The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller confirmation as to whether or not personal data concerning him or her are being processed, and, where that is the case, access to the personal data and the following information: (a) the purposes of the processing;

(b) the categories of personal data concerned;...” and several other exercisable rights. 

This doesn’t just apply to the EU. Many countries and regions are adopting comprehensive privacy laws to protect the rights of their citizenry, and using GDPR as a template. India, for instance, is advancing its data protection landscape with the Personal Data Protection Bill, which emphasizes similar rights, including the right for individuals to request access to and deletion of their personal data. In the United States, several states have enacted their own privacy laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA), both granting residents the right to request access and to delete their personal data held by businesses. 

How a company handles these requests can have a substantial impact on its financials and brand value. Proper management of DSRs not only ensures compliance and avoids hefty fines but also presents an opportunity to lessen the inherent costs of compliance, and to strengthen customer trust and loyalty.

Evolving Methods of Handling DSRs

When GDPR was first implemented, the default approach to handling DSRs was manual – typically via email or phone. However, as the public's awareness of their privacy rights has grown, so has the volume of DSR requests. And it turns out that people like privacy! 

However, the influx of new requests is tying up valuable human resources and justifying the creation of specialized privacy roles within organizations, who need to be trained, paid, and supported by IT and other teams. GDPR mandates the creation of a Data Protection Officer role for example, and oftentimes these are higher-up positions supported by other privacy staff.

Enter technology solutions that help these folks with their jobs - automating the handling of DSRs, and assisting with other more sophisticated privacy tasks. These solutions, many featuring API integration capabilities with data sources and automated workflows, significantly reduce the time and overhead involved in processing DSRs. For example, Gartner estimates the average cost of handling a DSR for an enterprise at $1,400, factoring in time, IT input, and opportunity costs. 

In fact, we measured the average DSR received and found that when a request comes in, it usually contains an average of 9 systems from which the company needs to enter and delete data from. With these companies facing dozens of such requests monthly, automation can translate into significant cost savings – easily reaching six figures annually.

Privacy as a Brand Value Proposition

Privacy played second fiddle to UX and the “fun factor” of software and services for a long time, but after many years of broken trust, users are waking up to the importance of privacy. Meta's antitrust loss in court is seen as a bellwether win for privacy advocacy, further indicating the company's struggles with maintaining user trust in the realm of data privacy and highlighting that it’s not only users who value privacy, it’s the legal infrastructure willing to put those users first.

Empowering customers to exercise their privacy rights does more than just comply with regulations; it enhances brand value. Customers value control over their data, and this appreciation translates into brand loyalty and trust. Moreover, privacy tools can integrate seamlessly into the digital experience, maintaining brand consistency and avoiding any disruption in the customer journey. It’s much less jarring to see a mandatory privacy rights form or popup when it matches the site’s colors and comes with a friendly, on-brand message, whereas the opposite is a recipe for massive eyerolls.

Properly handled, DSRs need not be a cost center. While they might not directly generate profits, their efficient management can lead to significant cost savings and add substantial value through enhanced customer trust and brand loyalty.

The takeaway is this: in a landscape where DSRs are mandatory, the idea of profits doesn't necessarily equate to a "profit center." But when managed effectively, DSRs can add significant value superseding their minimized costs, turning a regulatory requirement into your newest strategic advantage. This is where MineOS excels. Our DSR Handling solution is the industry’s best, easiest and most effective. With a full suite ideal for privacy professionals to centralize incoming DSRs, track the progress of themselves and their team, and create automated workflows that simplify and streamline this crucial process.